The Padres currently have 20 position players on their 40-man roster and all but two of them will be 25 or older as of next July 1.
Of the two younger, one, Jeudy Valdez, is pretty much guaranteed to spend all of next season in the minors. The other, Anthony Rizzo, should take over as the team’s starting first baseman at some point.
That’s 19 players who should be viable candidates for the major league roster come Opening Day or who shouldn’t be on the 40-man in the first place.
Now, obviously the Padres were going to add at least one or two bats this winter. But Mark Kotsay? On Nov. 15? What good is that supposed to do?
The Padres have oodles of fringe guys in Jesus Guzman, Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, James Darnell, Logan Forsythe, Chris Denorfia, Aaron Cunningham and Blake Tekotte. They’re also still carrying Jeremy Hermida, though he’s almost certainly a goner. It seems like a given now that Denorfia and Kotsay will have bench spots, which makes one wonder how Guzman, Blanks and Venable are going to fit in if the Padres can actually bring in a legitimate roster upgrade at some point.
And, make no mistake, the Padres need to bring in a legitimate roster upgrade at some point.
The Kotsay addition is one that lacks any imagination at all. Someone said “we need a veteran presence on our bench” and while Kotsay certainly has plenty of that to offer, it comes at the expense of on-base percentage and power. If he proves his value to the Padres, it will be as a coach, not as a piece on the 25-man roster taking the roster spot of someone 10 years younger and at-bats from more viable players.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.